World War Z

World War Z

by

Max Brooks

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World War Z: Introduction Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator says the event he speaks of goes by many names, but that he prefers to call it “The Zombie War.” He concedes that while the term “zombie” might not be scientifically accurate, there is no other word that universally describes the creatures that almost caused mankind’s extinction. He also says that it is a powerful word that conjures up the “memories, and emotions, that are the subject of this book.”
As the narrator begins his account of the zombie war, he stresses the value of human emotion. Even in his use of the word “zombie,” he chooses emotion over science. Clearly, for him, “memories, and emotions” hold a lot of power.
Themes
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The narrator explains that this book, the “record of the greatest conflict in human history,” was written because of a disagreement he had with the chairperson of the United Nation’s Postwar Commission Report. The narrator had worked diligently on his report for the Commission, and was disappointed when he discovered that the final version had been heavily edited. The chairperson explained that this was because his version was “too intimate,” with “Too many opinions, too many feelings,” and that the Commission had needed “clear facts and figures.”
When explaining the origins of this novel, the narrator reiterates the value he places on human emotion. While the chairperson found his report to be unnecessarily full of “opinions” and “feelings” and thus chose to edit them out, the narrator clearly disagrees with her.
Themes
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The final report excluded “the human factor,” and the narrator argued that without this, future generations might feel detached from the events being described and might even repeat the mistakes of the past. The chairperson told him that if he felt so strongly about it, he should write a book that included the things the Commission hadn’t considered important.
The narrator makes his case that emotions connect people. He decides to write a book that includes the opinions and feelings that the U.N. deemed unnecessary for their report—to him, these are as important as facts, if not more so.
Themes
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The narrator says that some might say it is too soon for a “personal history book”—it has been only 12 years since “VA Day was declared in the continental United States” and 10 years since “Victory in China Day,” which many consider to be the official end of the war. He admits that while future years might bring wisdom and hindsight, many of his interviewees are infirm and might not live for much longer, which is why it is important for him to capture their memories now. The world has changed, and life expectancy is much reduced. He says that this is a “book of memories,” and the stories he presents are those of his interviewees.
The world still seems to be struggling to recover after the long and horrific war, which highlights the extent of the devastation it wrought. The narrator points out that he will be presenting his interviewees’ experiences in this “book of memories.” It seems to be important to the narrator to preserve their subjective, emotional experiences to get a layered—and thus truer—account of the war rather than one presented in a single, dominant voice that might gloss over other points of view. 
Themes
Humanity vs. Monstrosity Theme Icon
The Cost of War Theme Icon
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